Lentil Soup with the classic Garam Masala Spices, Cardamom, Black Pepper, Cumin, and Cinnamon
This soup began on the heels of a week of making Punjabi-inspired food. I had made several curries, korma, roti, and much of it required Dahl (legumes). Lentil Dahl come in all shapes and sizes. If you ever get the chance to go to an East Indian grocery store, you can spend an hour just looking at the various names, colors, sizes, and choices. If you’re making this dish, feel free to be creative with which type of lentil you use; I’ve used brown, black, red, orange, and even one called Crimson. Be aware that any of these Dahl or lentils will break down, especially the small red, orange, and Crimson ones. The larger brown and green lentils will often keep their shape until you purée them, so you may want to set some aside if you’d like a chunkier soup. As pictured, you can see that there is some yogurt mixed into the soup. This can reduce the spiciness if it is a little too much for you, or it can just add a nice creamy texture.
The spices in this recipe are very common in Punjabi food, and I have to thank my sister-in-law Pam (Parmjeet) for teaching me every time we get together, which is not often enough. I hope you enjoy the soup as much as I do her company.
2 1/2 cups lentils, brown or green
2 medium onions, chopped fine
2 T oil
1 1/2 t salt
2 t chili powder
1 1/2 t coriander, ground
1 t) turmeric
1 t black pepper
3/4 t cumin
1/2 t cayenne pepper
1/4 t cardamom
6 cups water
2 cups broth
Pick through the beans and remove any debris or bad beans. Soak the cleaned beans in a bowl covered by 2 inches of water for 1 hour. Drain using a fine sieve.
In a 4-quart heavy saucepan over moderate heat, cook the onions in the oil, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
Stir in salt and spices (chili powder, coriander, turmeric, black pepper, cumin, cayenne, cardamom) and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes.
Stir in drained lentils, water, and broth. Simmer until the lentils fall apart, approximately 25 minutes. Let soup cool slightly.
Transfer soup to a blender in batches and puree. (Use caution when blending hot liquids.)
Place leftover pureed soup in a large bowl or pot and let cool. Refrigerate or freeze.